What is your next adventure?
I haven’t really decided what that adventure is yet. I’m a non-traditional undergraduate student and have 28 years of military experience in the Army, working in aviation, before deciding to come back to school and study aerospace, which was my childhood dream. My will be more focused towards my family and taking some time off before jumping into a new adventure. After taking some time off, I plan on pursing my master’s in aerospace engineering.
What about your next adventure are you most looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family. My wife is retired, so we’re looking forward to spending time together in Atlanta and having the freedom to travel to see our family that live out of state.
Did you have any previous co-op, internship, or research experience in this area?
I didn’t have your standard job or internship experience while pursing my undergrad. But before I came to Tech, I was a helicopter mechanic and crew chief in the Army for five years, an unmanned aircraft pilot for 7 years, and an unmanned aircraft operations officer for 16 years. As a mechanic, I performed daily and phased maintenance on transport helicopters (Bell UH-1 Hueys) and was part of a helicopter flight crew. As an unmanned aircraft operations officer, I coordinated for airspace, radio control frequencies, and logistical support, and trained and evaluated unmanned aircraft flight crews.
How did your educational experience at Georgia Tech help you to achieve your goals?
My previous aircraft experience really helped me understand the coursework at Tech and allowed me to really understand the practical side of aerospace. I love the opportunities that Georgia Tech has opened up as far as aerospace. I came in knowing a lot about aircraft and aviation, but the courses the AE School offers allowed me to expand to other areas of aerospace and made me think of things in a different way.
I would have never realized how complicated controls are without the coursework required and it’s really fascinating. I came in thinking, oh you just move the joystick to the left or right and the aircraft will go to the left or right, but now I know there’s so much more involved in the controls and the system of the aircraft to make it operate the way you need it to.
What advice would you give to an underclassman who would like to follow the same path?
Show up to class. You’ll learn so much more in person than if you don’t go and rely on the textbook or classmates.
Keep your mind open. You may have your mind set on working for a spacecraft company like SpaceX or want to pursue a career in one area, but as you go through the curriculum you may find you actually like aircraft more or like me, you realize you really like controls and robotics. Be open to what you’ll learn and where that may take you. The aerospace field has so many different areas that you can apply yourself to.
Take a variety of classes. Take a variety of classes early on in your undergrad career. I found that I liked controls towards the end of my undergrad career and if I had been more open, maybe I would have found it earlier on and been able to really dive deep into that area.